In 1934, a sailing ship with a fascinating history was the first vessel to use the new deep-water Corporation Quay – almost three weeks ahead of its inauguration for trading purposes.
Although small in comparison with some of the tall ships, which will berth at Corporation Quay next summer, the 45-ton oak-built schooner Maisie Graham shared today’s Sail Training International’s vision of bringing development and education to young people through sail training experience.
Maisie Graham had been built in 1878 by FW Wencke of Bremerhaven, Germany, as the pilot vessel Bremen. After serving with the Weser pilotage service, she arrived in the UK at the end of the Great War, becoming owned by the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen. Her name was changed to Lead Kindly Light (after a famous hymn of that name).
In 1925, she was acquired by the Graham Sea Training School of Scarborough. The school had been established during World War One to provide naval training to local boys. The town’s mayor, CC Graham, had purchased the school building in 1918 and donated it to Scarborough Corporation.
Maisie Graham was named after the mayor’s daughter in recognition of his generosity.
The schooner undertook regular cruises to near continental and Scandinavian ports, crewed by Scarborough boys aged between 11 and 16.
The two-masted Maisie Graham first visited the Wear on July 23, 1932, when she tied up in the Middle Basin at the entrance to South Docks.
By then, she had been fitted with a pair of auxiliary engines. It was something of a civic occasion with the Mayor of Scarborough attending and a full programme of events being arranged for the crew. The ship sailed for Dundee on July 25.
On May 22, 1934, she was back in the Wear after a voyage from Scarborough via Blyth. She was given the privilege of being the first vessel to berth at Corporation Quay after its completion. On board were 16 boys undergoing training for the Merchant Navy with Captain HD Birdsall in command.
Once more, officers and boys received local hospitality, including tea provided by the Missions to Seamen Ladies’ Guild and tickets for Black’s Regal Theatre for a special Empire Day show by Sunderland ex-Servicemen.
Four days later, the training ship returned to Scarborough and afterwards underwent repairs on John Crown and Sons Strand Slipway, Monkwearmouth.
In July, 1938, following moves by Prince Louis of Battenberg, the schooner was transferred to Gordonstoun School, Elgin, for the combined training and pleasure of pupils. She was formally renamed Prince Louis on February 14, 1939.
From 1951, she was operated by the Moray Sea School, Burghead, under ownership of the Marine Society. Being unfit for further service, she was broken up at Buckie in 1955.